Last year, hackers launched a cyberattack against the state of Michigan’s main website to draw attention to the Flint water crisis. In May, they targeted North Carolina government websites to protest a controversial law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate. In July, they took aim at the city of Baton Rouge’s website after the fatal police shooting of a black man. It’s called “hacktivism,” a blend of hacking and activism for a political or social cause, and state and local governments are increasingly finding themselves targets, reports Stateline.
Unlike cyber criminals who hack into computer networks to steal data for the cash, most hacktivists aren’t doing it for the dollars. They’re individuals or groups who band together and see themselves as fighting injustice. “It’s digital disobedience. It’s hacking for a cause,” said Dan Lohrmann of Security Mentor, a national security training firm that works with states. “Hacktivists are almost like vigilantes. They’re looking to disrupt,” said Brian Calkin of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a federally funded group that tracks cybersecurity issues for state and local governments. Calkin’s group tracked 65 hacktivist incidents involving state and local governments in 2015; the number jumped to 160 last year.